Barley, Turnip, and Greens Soup

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Like I've said in other blog posts, I don't really cook with set recipes. I let my knowledge of traditional foods and my culinary tradition guide me.

Today I made a simple soup that is rather exceptional. I wish I would have made it sooner!

Zeke's Barley, Turnip, and Greens Soup

4 medium sized turnips
1 bunch of greens (I used collards)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
a little olive oil for the onion and garlic
2 cups barley
about 1/4 cup fish sauce

1.Place the barley in a large pot and cover it with as much water as your pot will hold. Soak it overnight. The next day pour off the water. This leaches out much of the phytates.

2. Sweat the onion in a little olive oil. When its about half done mince and throw in the garlic

3. Chop your greens and them them to your large soup pot with your barley

4. Add the onion to the pot

5. Wash and cube your turnips. Add them to the pot.

6. Top everything off with you broth and add the fish sauce

7. Cook it. This shouldn't take more than about half an hour. You really just want the barley to break open and release its goodness into the soup to thicken it. Everything else should cook pretty quick.

There you have it folks. Super simple and super tasty.


Fermented Fish Sauce

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It doesn't matter what you call it, fish sauce, nuoc mam, patis, or nam pla. It's all the same fishy goodness.

Fish sauce is made by a few varying methods, but they are all basically the same. Fish, usually anchovies and sardines, but sometimes whatever comes up in the net, are mixed with salt and maybe some water and allowed to ferment. The fermented juice that comes off is fish sauce. sometimes it is drained from the bottom and added back into to the top of the fermenter until fermentation has completed, and sometimes it isn't. There isn't much of a wrong way to make fish sauce.

Where the Chinese and Japanese use soy sauce, much of southeast Asia uses fish sauce. It has a rich savory flavor like soy sauce, but better. It is actually believed that fish sauce came first, and that soybeans were added to extend the fish sauce, until eventually the fish were left out altogether.

Fish sauce is not an entirely eastern food either. The romans had fish sauce too. They called it garum or liquamen. It was used in food, medicine, and even in cosmetics. Like so many things, they got it from the Greeks. It was usually made from just the guts of fish. Some modern fish sauce is as well.

Fish sauce can be used in place of soy sauce in many applications. It has a good umami kick to it and a nutty slightly cheesy flavor. When you first open the bottle, don't let the aroma scare you off. Its a little stinky. Supposedly when the French first got to Vietnam and tried fish sauce they described the aroma as "a young girl that does not wash properly." I had a friend that once said, "If you can get it past your nose its one of the most delicious things there is." It doesn't smell that bad. I really think people get all worked up over nothing.

so what are the health benefits of this traditional food? It has almost all the same health benefits that fish broth has. Think about it. One is boiling fish until the goodness comes out, and the other is fermenting fish until the goodness comes out. Fish sauce is high in minerals, especially if made from small fish like anchovies so the total bone content is higher. It also contains small amounts of thyroid hormones.

My favorite fish sauce recipe was posted in my "eat your heart" out post. Another great thing to use fish sauce with is vegetables of all kinds. I like to take zucchini and summer squash, brown in some butter or olive oil, then add a little fish sauce and let it cook in. Something my Stepmother does is brown some ground beef and cook it with patis(Filipino fish sauce) and chayote(AKA alligator pear). It is delciious and satisfying!

So what are you waiting for? Go buy some fish sauce! Start cooking already!


Eat your Heart Out

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This post is Part of Real food Wednesdays!

Many people who eat traditional foods have trouble incorporating organ meats into their diets. It seems thats Americans have somehow been led to beleive that organ meats are yucky. When people into traditional foods start talking about organ meats, the topic almost immediately goes to liver. Liver is indeed a nutritional powerhouse, especially when eaten raw or rare.

I'm not here to talk about liver. Well, Not today anyways. I want to talk about my favorite organ meat, heart.

Thats right. Nothing is quite as satisfying as munching down on a bog old chunk of beef heart. Here in south Texas I can go into almost any grocery store and find tongue, kidneys, sweetbreads, feet(not organs, I know), and heart.

Heart is great for those of you just starting out with organ meats. When you get a nice steak, What are you eating? Muscle. What is the heart? A muscle. Granted its smooth muscle unlike skeletal muscle, but its still muscle. So what do you think it would taste like? Muscle!

Heart is great for organ meat noobs because it takes like extra beefy beef. It does taste kinda strong, but it still tastes like beef. I can't get enough of it, and cooking it is easy too! Just grab a chunk of heart about two to four pounds, trim off any connective tissue, and treat it like a small roast. Throw it in an oven until the outside is golden brown and delicious and the inside is as pink or well done as you like. I personally like all my meat very rare, even heart.

Heart can be ground and used anywhere you use normal beef. You can put it in Chili, meatloaf, hamburgers, soups, stews, or anywhere!

I haven't even started to mention the vitamins and nutrients in beef heart. Its one of the best sources of CoQ10. CoQ10 is good for you heart. So eat heart for your heart. Heart also attracts the best fats to itself, which means even if you buy a regular supermarket heart, you'd be getting better fat than with any other cut of meat.

Another kind of heart I like is chicken hearts. They're cute little bite sized hearts. They taste kind of meaty like duck or goose meat. You can make all sorts of interesting stir fries with these little organ bombs. I like to throw them in a pan with a little coconut oil (feel free to use schmaltz or tallow or butter or ghee) and brown, then let them simmer in a little Vietnamese fish sauce. Use some roux or cornstarch to thicken it and you have an awesome chicken hearts and gravy. I'd make this more often but my roommate gets mad when I cook with fish sauce.

So next time you're out shopping get some heart. You'll be glad you did!


A-fib and Omega-3's

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Those of you familiar with my blog are probably already aware that I suffer from atrial fibrillation. It is quite literally a subject near and dear to my heart.

One of the best things someone suffering from atrial fibrillation can do for their heart is to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids, and decrease their intake of omega-6's this is mainly through their ability to regulate eicosanoids.

Among other things, Eicosanoids regulate blood thinness and inflammation. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to not flow out of the atria properly, where it can pool and form clots. Most people with atrial fibrillation are put on a blood thinner to keep these clots from forming and possibly moving out of the heart causing stroke or embolism. Omega-3's have a blood thinning effect that can be used to combat this.

I take about ten grams of fish oil a day. I take three 1200 mg capsules three times a day, with breakfast lunch and dinner. Taking them with meals helps absorption, though I sometimes take my morning dose awhile before breakfast. I also try to eat foods high in natural omega-3's like fish, grass fed beef, and walnuts.

Inflammation's role in a-fib is not very well known, but managing inflammation seems to help with it. Eicosanoids have alot to do with inflammation. The ones formed from omega-3's tend to stop inflammation, while the eicosanoids formed from omega-6's tend to cause inflammation.

Increasing our intake of omega-3' and balancing our fatty acid ratios is yet another way to use traditional foods to manage a-fib.

More Beans

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I've never really been one to use recipes. I've always had a pretty good culinary intuition, but some of you want actual recipes, so I'll give it a shot.

Here's an awesome pot of beans I made this weekend.

Zeke's Latest Bean recipe.
1 pound black beans
1 pound pinto beans
3 chicken thighs
3 Tablespoons cumin (or to taste
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons onion powder
3 Tablespoons chili powder

1. Soak the beans overnight in a 5 quart dutch oven, then drain off the water and add fresh
2. place the chicken thighs skin side down in a pan and brown them. Don't worry about actually cooking them, we just want the flavor that comes from browning.
3. Place the chicken thighs in with the beans.
4. bring the beans to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Lets the beans almost cook. This can take up to two hours.
5. remove the chicken and shred it with a few forks. Put the meat and the bones back into the pot.
6. Add the spices and let the beans finish cooking. Remember salt will nearly stop the cooking process. I also wait till near the end to add the spices as much of oils that give them their flavor will cook out.
7. let simmer a while for flavors to meld and enjoy!

What could make this recipe better? Well if you aren't a broke tired college student like me, you can cook some fresh onion and garlic and add that. The flavor will be much better. you also keep more of the healthy chemicals in the food that way.

Lets not forget that beans feed your intestinal flora. Why pay good money for inulin or fructo-oligosaccharides? Beans contain the same indestible sugars that feed our gut bugs. Where do you think all that gas comes from?


Eat Natto Now!

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It's sticky. It's stinky, It's slimy. It's natto.

Most modern soy foods are not fit for human consumption. The only soy foods that are safe to eat are traditional fermented soy products, and natto fits the bill perfectly.

So what is natto?
Natto is an ancient Japanese food made from soybeans that have been boiled and fermented with Bacillus subtilis bacteria. The story of its discovery goes like this. Minamoto no Yoshiie was on a battle campaign in Japan when one day he and his men were attacked while boiling soybeans for their horses. (Notice they weren't going to eat the soybeans, as they knew they weren't appropriate for human consumption.) They hurriedly packed up the beans, and did not open the straw bags until a few days later, where they found fermented soy beans. They tried it and liked it. The rest is history.

Natto has a very strong ammonia like smell, which some compare to cheese. It is covered with a gooey coating of polyglutamic acid that makes spiderweb like strings when pulled apart. They are usually made with a type of soybean called, surprisingly enough, a natto soybean.

So what does natto taste like? Some think it tastes strong. Some say it tastes like coffee. Some people find it bland. I'm in between somewhere. I can taste a hint of coffee, but its not intense.

I buy my natto at my local Asian market. I plan to make natto next week. I will of course let you know how it turns out, and hopefully take some pictures.

To eat natto you take it out of the package and put it in a bowl with some shoyu and mustard, then you stir the crap out of it. It will get more and more gooey. Then you put it on top of some rice and chow down!

While the dangers of modern soy products are quite bad, Natto is extremely healthy.

One of the most important things about natto is an enzyme called "nattokinase." It is a fibrolytic enzyme. It can actually break up blood clots! Nattokinase is becoming popular. Some people take nattokinase in the form of a natto extract. It also contains pyrazine, another chemical that can stop blood clots. Now that really is heart healthy soy!

Natto also contains vitamin K2. Many believe this to be Weston A. Price's "Activator X."

Natto is one of the few fermented soy foods you can safely eat every day. I'm going to make some next week. I'll take pictures so you can see how it's done.

This post is part of Fight back Fridays at Food Renegade.


Personal Lubricant fom Flax?

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I usually talk about food you eat, but today I'm going to talk about something interesting to do with flax seeds.

Flax seeds can make a simple all natural personal lubricant thanks to their soluble fiber content.

Have you ever tried putting flax seeds in water? The soluble fiber in flax seeds will dissolve into the water and make it somewhat slimy. This slime is very slippery and makes a great personal lubricant for those of you really serious about getting strange chemicals out of the products you use. Many commercial personal lubricant ingredients contain dubious chemicals like polyvinyl alcohol, a polymer also used to make rubber cement. Flax makes edible personal lubricant is water based, which makes it a condom safe lubricant as well. If you use organic flax seeds you will even have an organic personal lubricant.

I don't remember where I originally found this. Its a very interesting project for you and your sweetie.

To make this all you do is put about a tablespoon of flax seeds in about a cup of water. Wait until it gets to your desired slimyness, and strain out the flaxseeds.

...and there you have it. Homemade lube. Do it for your health.


Beans, The Musical Fruit!

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It doesn't matter whether you call them pulses or legumes, beans are one of my favorite foods!
I've heard some conflicting evidence on beans. Some say they are difficult to digest and mildly toxic, while others claim the longest lived cultures on earth eat plenty of beans. I tend to believe the latter more. Just look at the Japanese, they have taken soy, aw very unhealthy bean, and turned it into miso and natto. Two of the healthiest foods around!

These days even the average megamart has a variety of beans to choose from. You can find dried butter beans, organic anasazi beans, and even mayocoba beans. My personal favorite is good old fashioned pinto beans.

Cooking with dried beans is simple. I fill the pot I want to cook with about a third full with beans, then I cover them with water and let them soak overnight. If I can I change the water every three or four hours. Soaking beans is important for the same reason as soaking grains. Its draws out excessive phytates and other antinutrients. It is possible to cook beans without soaking them or to use the fast soak method, but they will not be as healthy.

After your beans have soaked, give them some new water and start cooking. Bring them to a boil then allow them to simmer. I find it usually takes me about two hours.

Whatever you do , don't ass salt until your beans are cooked through! Salt virtually stops the cooking process! Wait until your beans have softened to your preference before salting.

Salt brings up the next topic. Seasoning. Almost any common culinary spice will work with beans. My all time favorite bean spice is cumin. It is almost mandatory for beans here in Texas. Sometimes I will also ad a chili powder blend to make a kind of (I cringe when I say this but I don't know what else to call it) vegetarian chili. Don't get carried away though if your chili powder has salt in it, you can get carried away and easily add too much chili powder and have extra salty beans. Always check the label.

You can make a more greek style bean recipe by using cinnamon, anise and allspice to your beans.


This blog is part of Real food wednesdays.



This blog is part of Fight back fridays!

Well, my freaking beet kvass turned to blood! I went to try some yesterday evening, and i knew something wasn't right. The slight foam on the top had turned brown. When I poured a little into a glass and sipped, it tasted a lot like beets and blood. Well that was gross, so I poured it down the sink. Instead of the regular bright magenta of beet juices, it was maroon like blood! It had even thickened a little so it looked like blood as I poured it out.


I wanted to say a few words today on on preservatives.

They're nasty.

I hope you enjoyed my post!


One of the main issues I have with preservatives is that they slaughter intestinal flora. Most preservatives work by killing microbes so they can't get a foothold and spoil the food. A long time ago I bought some corn tortillas that had potassium sorbate in them. I left them in a cabinet for almost a year and they never spoiled.

Think about what happens as you eat something like that. As you digest it that potassium sorbate will slowly leak out as it moves through your digestive tract, slowly causing a probiotic genocide in your intestines.

Sodium Benzoate is another bad one. Sodium benzoate is found naturally in some foods such as cranberries, but it is more common as a food additive. It has been linked to hyperactivity in children, and can actually damage your mitochondria. Mitochondria are the cellular organelles that allow use to use oxygen and ATP to fuel our bodies.

ALWAYS read the labels on your food. This kinds of chemicals are everywhere, and just as prevalent as other bad guys like MSG.

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What do I do?

My Stepmom bought margarine last night. How do I tell her I refuse to eat anything she cooks with it without hurting her feelings?

One of the perks of staying at home for the summer is that I don't have to cook for myself. Looks like I may have to start again, though.

She got some nasty Bluebonnet brand margarine too. That stuff doesn't even taste a little like butter. I'm thinking of taking a few bucks and buying some real butter and recreating the old experiment where a stick of margarine and a stick of butter are left outside. Supposedly insets and whatnot will eat the butter in a few days, and the margarine will not be touched. I'm sure both will soon melt in this Texas summer heat.

Maybe then she'll understand?

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Beet Kvass

Well, Its been two days and my beet kvass is just starting to get bubble. I'm going to try some tomorrow morning and see if its gotten sour yet. Hopefully this ferment will work. My last to attempts at making lacto fermented foodstuffs were so gross.

Wish me luck

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Monday Monday

Every other day of the week is fine...

Anyway, I tried to make yogurt again this weekend. This time I let the milk warm up, added some yogurt to my fermenting pitcher and added the milk in stirring well. I'm afraid the results were even less successful than before. I'm ticked because I bought good organic milk again because I was sure of my success this time.

This time, instead of getting partially fermented yogurt, I got some kind of foul bubbly cheese raft floating on top, it smelled like cheap domestic feta. It was probably safe to eat, but I didn't want to take a chance. It went straight into the dumpster. The raft of cheese fell out and splattered curds like brains dashed against a rock. I want to try making yogurt again, but I just need some help. Anyone have any advice? I could really use some guidance.

Right now I've got some beet kvass fermenting down in the kitchen, hopefully that will turn out ok.

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Yesterday's post on my favorite fats had prompted some questions about eicosanoids. I recommend you take a look at this chemistry post as well before we begin.

Eicosanoids are chemical messengers made from fats that contain 20 carbons. This means they are made from three fatty acids.

Eicosapentaenoic acid - This is EPA. This is one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and cod liver oil. It has 5 double bonds

Arachidonic acid - This is an omega-6 fatty acid found in meats. It has 4 double bonds.

Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid- This i an omega-6 acid with 3 double bonds. I am admittedly not particularly familiar with it.

The eicosanoids are one of the most complex systems in the human body. They are important in inflammation, immunity, and the central nervous system. Eicosanoids derived from the omega-6 fatty acids are generally inflammatory. Those derived from the omega-3 fatty acids are generally anti-inflammatory or have no affect on inflammation. The amounts of these eicosanoids in the body are greatly dependent on the amount of fats that they are derived from. Eat lots of omega-6 fatty acids and you'll have lots of omega-6 derived eicosanoids. This will contribute to diseases like high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and imflammatory diseases like arthritis.

There are four families of eicosanoids. They are:

So how are these eicosanoids made? They are made by the careful enzymatic oxidation of fats. Anyone who's read Nourishing traditions know that unsaturated fats should not be used for cooking because they will oxidize and can cause cellular damage. This still holds true, and the oxidation of these fats is very carefully controlled by enzymes and kept away from the nuclei of cells. Anti-oxidants can help limit the production of some of the pro-inflammatory eicosanoids There is evidence that the eicosanoid pathways evolved from the bodies attempt to detoxify oxidized fats.

The prostaglandins, prostacyclins, and thromboxanes are known collectively as the prostanoids. They ae responsible for the swelling, redness, pain, and heat associated with imflammation.

The synthesis of the omega-3 and omega-6 acids into eicosanoids involves parallel pathways, The same enzymes act on both. It is the difference in the fatty acid itself that makes the often parallel eicosanoids.

One of the most well known eicosanoid enzymes is also one of the most often used. Cycloocygenase, known more commonly ax COX, is responsible for making the prostanoids. There are three types of the COX enzyme; COX-1, COX-2, and COX-3.
Its the COX-2 enzymes that are most responsible for imflammatory omega-6 derived eicosanoids. One of the COX-1 enzyme's major functions is making eicosanoids to help blood clot.

Traditional NSAIDs such as aspirin inhibit all COX enzymes. This is one reason aspirin has a blood thinning effect as well as relieving pain. It is not selective and inhibits everything.

There are some newer NSAIDs available by prescription that inhibit only the COX-2 enzyme. You have probably already figured out that these are referred to as "COX-2 inhibitors." The problem with COX-2 inhibitors is that they have all sots of cardiovascular side ffects, and increase the risk of all sorts of heart problems. Vioxx was one of these COX-2 inhibitors. It was so dangerous it was taken off the market. Many of Pfizer's COX-2 inhibitors got on the market largely due to fraudulent research. You can read up more on this if you want. My advice is to stay far away from COX-2 inhibitors. These drug's names almost always end in "-coxib." i.e Merck's etoricoxib (Arcoxia), Pfizer’s celecoxib (Celebrex) and valdecoxib (Bextra)

The leukotrienes are the other family of eicosanoids, which more people are hearing about. Their action is implicated in inflammatory diseases such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as asthma and allergic rhinitis. There is a drug on the market now called Singulair that is used for asthma and allergies. It works by blocking these leukotrienes.

Remember that when we talk about these broad categories of eicosanoids that its usually the ones derived from the omega-6 fats that are pro-inflammatory, and that the omega-3 ones have no effect on imflammation and may even be anti-inflammatory.

"Well thanks for all the tehnical info Zeke," you're saying, "but so what?"

These eicosanoids are one of the main reasons it is so important to pay attention to your essential fatty acid balance. If you want inflammatory eicosanoids eat more omega-6's, which isn't hard since they're everywhere these days. Soybean oils is almost all omega-6, and sunflower oil is ALL omega-6. Remember that next time you go to grab a bag of Lay's. Even though they are now trans fat free, they are now made with pure sunflower oil. Carbs and omega-6 fatty acids. It's a heart attack in a bag. The craptacular salt they use doesn't help either.

Now this isn't to say that you should cut omega-6 oils completely out of your diet. They are still ESSENTIAL fatty acids. The key is ratio's.

The proper ration of omega-6 to omega three is believed to be somewhere between 4:1 and 1:1. Studies have shown that the Eskimos ate extremely high fat diets with rations of 1:30 without ill effects. It seems that an excess of omega-6 is bad, but that if the ration is swung the other way with high omega-3's there is no observed ill effect. The typical American eats a ration of 10:1 up to a 30:1 ratio. This is the exact opposite of what the Eskimos ate/eat and we have health as terrible as their's isn't. For your reference, here is a list of some common oils and their fatty acid ratio's shown as the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3

flax 1:3
canola 2:1
olive 3–13:1 (be aware that olive oil can vary from a great ratio to a bad radio. Always read the label.)
walnut 4:1
soybean 7:1
corn oil 46:1
sunflower 1:0 (no omega-3)
cottonseed 1:0 (almost no omega−3)
peanut 1:0 (no omega−3)
grapeseed oil 1:0 (almost no omega−3)

For more reading I suggest the works of Udo Erasmus and Mary G. Enig. Also the wikipedia article on eicosanoids is very good.

This article is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade. Check it out! Its a great blog.

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Flax Seed Cereal and Wheat Germ Oil for A-Fib

The organic chemistry lesson is going to become a weekly thing, so look out for that on Mondays. (I want to do it everyday, but I can't spend three hours on one blog post every day)

Today I'm here to talk about flax seeds and cold pressed wheat germ oil.

I'm 23 years old. I'm a young man about to get his bachelor's degree in environmental chemistry. I have atrial fibrillation.

Its a heart condition where the heart muscle's electrical timing gets thrown off and the chambers don't pump in quite the right order. I've only had one major attack, but for about a year before that, and ever since I would occasionally feel one heartbeat every now and then that wasn't right, then my heart would beat normally.

As anyone who has had A-fib can probably tell you, when you have it, it feels like your heart is trying to do a cartwheel inside your chest. It usually isn't painful like a heart attack, but It can be. I've never experienced pain from it.

I took my a-fib attack as a sign from God to stop eating so much crap. I'd known about NT and traditional diets for awhile but was too lazy to do it. I now had a little motivation.

Sine starting a traditional diet I've lost some weight. (I'm 'morbidly obese' which is why I had a-fib in the first place). It has been slow though because I still eat too many carbs. (I love me some rice.)

Well I haven't had an a-fib incident in quite some time, not even a single beat out of step. Its all thanks to proper fat and vitamin consumption. Before this, even though I wasn't in a-fib, I could feel my heart beating in my chest, like I just had a tiny tiny bit of wannabe a-fib. I haven't even had that.

To me flax seeds are a miracle food. About ten minutes after my first bowl of flax cereal my heart was beating perfectly normal. I couldn't even feel it. For a few second I was afraid that it had stopped! I forgot that this was normal and you aren't supposed to feel your heartbeat. I had been taking fish oil for somet ime, and it helped, but nothing knocked out the a-fib like flax.

Flax is high in mediumish chain Omega-3 (N-3) fatty acids. In fact it's oil is mostly Alpha-linoleic acid. It turns out that omega-3 oils fight inflammation, and a-fib is an inflammatory condition.

Omega-3 oils fight inflammation because of eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are chemical messengers made from fats. Omega-3 oils and omega-6 oils both go through the same chemical pathways to become these eicodanoids. Every omega-3 eicosanoid has a corresponding omega-6 eicosanoid. The difference is in their effect on the body. Omega-6 eicosanoids CAUSE inflammation. When you get bit by a mosquito and have a nistamine reaction, these omega-6 eicosanoids are released and cause the bite to swell and get warn and to turn red. Omega-3 eicosanoids have the opposite effects. They reduce inflammation and swelling, and restore things to normal.

You may have seen commercials fo a drug called Singulair that blocks 'leukotrienes.' Leukotrienes are one type of eicosanoid. The omega-6 leukotrienes are largely responsible for the actual effects of the histamine reaction. Instead of popping pills for your allergies, try restoring your fatty acid balance. I know it has helped mine. To do this you can take fish oil or cod liver oil (extra vitamins in cod liver oil), and flax seed oil. I use ground flax seeds and warm water to make an extremely low carb breakfast cereal. It can be a bit slimy due to all the soluble fiber, but I find it quite tasty with a little butter and salt.

The other thing I've added to my diet that has helped is cold pressed wheat germ oil. This is one of natures best sources of vitamin E. Cold pressed palm oil is also high in vitamin E.

Wheat germ oil contains not only all the tocopherols in the proper balance, but the tocotrienols as well, which are almost always forgotten about. I forget who did the study, but many of the early studies that showed vitamin E was good for your heart were done with wheat germ oil. Many vitamin E studies today are done with synthetic vitamin E and even the unnatural and harmful esterified form of vitamin E. Yuck!

I take a spoonful of cold pressed wheat germ oil with my fish oil every day. It tastes strongly of wheat germ, so I was it down with water pretty quick, but its a small price to pay to prevent heart failure, don't you think?

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Intro to Lipid Chemistry Part 1: Organic Basics- Atoms to Alkanes

Well its time for the long awaited introduction to lipid chemistry series. Todays post will not contain very much quantum physics. Don't let that scare you, quantum physics is fun!

The next installment will contain a little more quantum physics, as it is necessary for understanding orbitals and bonds. Bonds are very important in lipid chemistry. Anyone into Nourishing traditions and similar lifestyles knows that you can't cook with saturated fats due to the double bonds. These are best explained with a little quantum physics basics.

Today we are just going to go over some of the basics of organic chemistry. We'll start with the atom, and today's lesson will end with alkanes.

Lets get started, shall we?

Everything in the chemical world is made up of three things; Protons, Neutron, and Electrons.

Now, Protons have a positive charge and are usually represented in print as 'p+'
Neutrons have a negative charge and are represented as 'n', sometimes with a little superscript zero to show that they have no charge.
Finally, electrons have a negative charge and a represented as 'e-'

"So what Zeke?" you're saying to me, "I already know this, I went to middle school."
Just bear with me braniac.

Protons and neutrons are about the same size as each other. They both have a mass of one Atomic Mass Unit (AMU). Electrons on the other hand are very tiny. They are so tiny in fact, that even though they do have a mass, it is considered to be nothing. Only hardcore particle physicists actually care about the mass of electrons.

Protons, neutrons, and electrons mix together to form atoms. Protons and neutrons lie at the center of an atom in the nucleus. Electrons fly around the outside in orbits. The simplest Atom is Hydrogen. It has one proton in the nucleus and one electron orbiting it, and It chemical symbol is 'H'. What makes one element different from another is the number of protons. Hydrogen has one, carbon has six, and uranium has 92.

This is where things get tricky.

Here is the traditional solar system orbital model you probably learned in school.

solar system model of the atom

The solar system type model is a LIE!

In actuality electrons don't really 'move' around the nucleus. They kinda pop out of existence in their current location, while simultaneously popping back into existence someplace else. Its weird, I know.

It gets weirder. These 'orbitals' aren't anything like the orbit of a planet. They are just locations around the nucleus where there will be a good chance of finding an electron. Electron 'orbits' are just a statistic. This creates what is known as the 'electron cloud theory.' This makes our hydrogen atom actually look more like this:

electron cloud model of the atom

I told you it was weird. Instead of having a nice neat orbital, we have a area of 'electron density. I like to visulaize it as a could of gas, or a blob of gelatinous stuff surrounding the nucleus.

The thing is, that kind of model isn't always helpful to chemists, because well... we're chemists, not physicists. When we're being chemists and doing our chemist thing, we usually write the molecule like this:

hydrogen atom

This is just the symbol for the element, with a dot for the electron. When doing this we only show the electrons for the outermost orbital, since these are the only electrons that bond. This is simple for hydrogen since it only has one orbital that can be filled with a maximum of two electrons.

If you've never taken any type of college level chemistry course, your brain is probably tired. If it is, go get a glass of water, give your brain a minute to relax, and come on back. Things are going to be simpler for the rest of the lesson.

Welcome back (if you left). Let's continue our discussion of electrons. Electrons have some issues. They're awfully codependent. They can't stand to be alone. Electrons always occur in pairs. Its their nature. So what about or hydrogen from before? He only had one electron.

Well, hydrogen doesn't occur like that in nature. It always pairs up with another hydrogen, and they share electrons. Here's the picture:

hydrogen molecule

Since two elements are coming together, this is no longer an atom. It is now a molecule.

The outermost electron orbital (or more commonly, 'shell') s known as the 'valence shell' and the electrons within it are 'valence electron.' Elements like to have their valence shells filled as well as having electron pairs in them. Most electrons like to have 8 electrons in their outer shell, the only exception we will concern ourselves with is hydrogen, which only needs two. Go back and look at that hydrogen molecule, It's stable and happy. Can't you see how happy it is? No? Look closer.

The hydrogen molecule is sharing a valence electron with the other, so both of them have full valence shells at the same time. This is called a covalent bond.

The vast majority of bonds in organic chemistry are covalent. We'll talk about Ionic bonds tomorrow.


Organic chemistry was originally the study of chemicals produced by lifeforms. Since all known life is carbon based, these were carbon based compounds. Now days organic chemistry is the chemistry of all carbon compounds, whether they are organic or not.

Let's meet our friend Carbon, shall we?

Carbon has six protons and six electrons. Only four of these electrons are valence electrons. They are lonely and have no one to love. Here's a picture of carbon:

carbon atom

Man he looks so sad. unpaired electrons and an empty valence shell. I know! Lets send in some hydrogens! They only need one more electron each. Four should do it.


Look at that! We just made methane. Methane is the simplest organic compound. It's also the simplest hydrocarbon. Its called a hydrocarbon because, you guess it, its made of HYDROgen and CARBON. It is also the simplest alkane. Alkanes are the simplest type of hydrocarbon. Alkanes are what we call saturated hydrocarbons, they have no double or triple bonds. More on that later.

Carbon is a very special atom. Not only can it covalently link with other atoms like hydrogen, it can covalently link with another carbon. So we'll take two carbons and link them, then pair any unpaired electrons with hydrogen. Notice that carbon ALWAYS forms four bonds. This will become very important later.


This is ethane. It is the next largest alkane. Notice how they both end in the -ane suffix? That is how we know its an alkane. If we added another carbon, we'd have the next smallest alkane. The prefix lets us know how many carbons there are. It is important to know the names of the alkanes, because the names of all other organic compounds are derived from them. Here is a list. learn it, memorize it, love it with all your heart:

The number is the number of carbons

1. Methane
2. Ethane
3. Propane
4. Butane
5. Pentane
6. Hexane
7. Heptane
8. Octane
9. Nonane
10. Decane
11. Undecane
12. Dodecane
13. Tridecane
14. Tetradecane
15. Pentadecane
16. Hexadecane
17. Heptadecane
18. Octadecane
19. Nonadecane
20. Eicosane

The 'normal' form of these compounds is in a straight chain. These are called straight chain hydrocarbons and usually have an italics 'n' in front of then because they are 'normal.' i.e. n-pentane, n-nonane, n-eicosane

Now chemists are lazy. Drawing all those little dots for electron is a lot of work, so we usually just draw a single line. Here are some examples.

chemical structure

Of course for big chemicals that can be a lot of work too. So we use something called 'organic shorthand'. We just draw the lines, and ignore the symbol for the carbon, and ignore the hydrogens completely. In organic chemistry they are a given.

organic shorthand

OF course more than one carbon can bond to another carbon. These are called branched hydrocarbons. I'm not going to go into how they are named, but here are a few in organic shorthand. They can even bend back on themselves and make loops! While this is not of too much import for our lipid discussion, if you want to get deeper into organic chemistry it is very important to things like polysaccharides.

branched and cyclic hydrocarbons

As you can see, the possibilities are virtually limitless!

That pretty much concludes today's post. Its alot to digest as it is and I actually wanted to go into more detail. If you have questions about anything, please feel free to ask it in a comment.

Tomorrow we will talk about ions, and go into compounds that incorporate oxygen into their structure.

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Colon Cleansing Works: Agree, Disagree, or Qualify

If You ever took an AP test in high school, then you are familiar with this kind of prompt. Do you a agree with the position, do you disagree with the position, or is the position partially correct, or only correct in certain situation.

I this blog entry I will qualify the statement, "colon cleansing works."

So what is colon cleansing? I'm sure you've probably heard something about it these days. There are ads for colon cleansing products everywhere. There's even some funny looking guy on TV that drones on about his baby girl's massive tree trunk like bowel movements. Well good for her.

The main idea behind these colon cleansing products is that as you digest food, especially red meat and processed food, a layer of undigested food builds up along the walls of you colon. To keep your guts lubricated, The body secretes mucus which forms a layer over this supposedly undigested red meat and whatnot, but more undigested food sticks to it, causing the buildup of a 'mucoid plaque.' This 'mucoid plaque' is supposed to harbor putrefaction and release all manner of terrible things into the body.

"OH NO! run for your life! The mucoid plaques of Bowelzia Ten have landed!!!"

But seriously.

People use colon cleansing products, and pass these giant ropes of black, almost tar like, looking gunk. This is supposedly the mucoid plaque that the colon cleansing product removed from their intestines. Now their bowels are squeaky clean and working in tip top shape.

The strange thing is, no one has ever passed this stuff while evacuating for a colonoscopy, nor has any Doctor ever found this stuff during a colonoscopy. Also, no Pathologist has ever cut open someones colon and found pounds and pounds of this stuff, as some claim happened to John Wayne after his death.

This whole 'mucoid plaque' thing is crap. (haha get it?) What people are passing is the colon cleansing product itself. It's making this stuff. Most colon cleansing products contain psyllium, among other things, and psyllium forms a gelatinous blob in the intestines. It makes a great laxative, you might know it by the brand name "Metamucil."

Despite mucoid plaque basically being a bad hoax, colon cleansing has worked wonders for many people. It has cured their allergies. It has cured their acne. It has cured their 'masculine issues' in a way Viagra never could. Okay I made that last one up), but te thing is colon cleansing really does help people. Why?

To answer that we have to look at detoxification. Colon cleansing really does detoxify you, just not why 'they' say it does. T undestand this we have o understand detoxification.

Detoxification is your body getting rid of bad chemicals. So how does you body do this?

One of the major ways we detoxify is through breathing. Carbon dioxide is a toxin. If too much of it builds up, we die. Try not breathing for twenty minutes and see how you feel. You'll probably feel very dead. Breathing also gets rid of several other toxins and even excess chemicals that might not be bad. Think garlic breath.

The next form of detoxification is one people often forget: sweating. All sots of bad chemicals flow out into our sweat, along with some good ones like potassium and sodium. (It's got 'lectrolytes. It's what plants crave!). Yet another reason to get that occasional super intense workout in.

Another way, probably the most well known form of detoxification, is urinating. The old yellow river is full of wastes. The kidneys are basically a super efficient reverse osmosis filter. The best thing to do for them is to drink plenty of water. That will keep the toxins moving out.

There is actually a theory, that the reason women live a little longer than men is because they cry more. The idea is that there are toxins that are only effectively removed by crying, and since women cry more, they are more detoxed.

It is well known that the livers main job is to destroy toxins. Most detoxified byproducts are sent to the kidneys for elimination, and some are present in bile.

So now this leave us to the colon. The colon is a method of detoxification. Basically anything that leaves the body will take unwanted substances with it.

So what do all of these detox paths have in common? An interface with the blood. The lungs have alveolae, little sacks with capillaries to exchange Carbon Dioxide and xygen with the air. The kidneys have nephrons, which are little tufts of capillaries surrounded by the Bowman's capsule. The liver is full of capillaries, and even stores blood.

The inside of the colon is covered with capillaries. One of its main functions is to pull water out of whats left of our food. When fiber is present in the colon, it holds on to some water, and toxins pass from the blood into the stool, and are bound up in the fiber.

Go back and read that last sentence again. THAT is why colon cleansing works. Not because colon cleansing products clean out the colon, but because they have ingredients that absorb toxins from the blood. There are two main ingredients that do this, psyllium, and bentonite clay.

Bentonite clay is a type of clay known as a smectite. On the microscopic level, it made mad up of little tiny plate like particles. On the thin outer edge, the particles are positively charged, but the wide faces of the plates are negatively charged and attract positively charged toxins. (The majority,but not all, of toxins are positively charged) Internally taken clay is a powerful healer. I've used it myself, and highly reccomend it.

I already mentioned psyllium. This is the mucilaginous seed of the psyllium plant. When mixed with water it quickly forms a slimy goo. This goo is fiber, and it will not give up all its water when passing through the gut. It will absorb toxins and the fiber will bind them.

So you see colon cleansing really does work, but it doesn work the way 'they' say it does.

For more reading on healing clays, I suggest you check out Eyton's Earth. Geophagy is something we used to pracice often. Anyone who follows a paleodiet type diet will understand that clay is a surprising missing element of our diet.

Don't forget the power of fiber either. Make sure to get plenty of fiber in your diet. That means lots of greens, another thing paleo diet people will understand.

Now go and cleanse already!!!!

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My Poor Yogurt

I killed my yogurt. I got it too hot. I saw many sites on the 'net that say to use a heating pad set to warm. Mine was set to low and it was still too hot. When I checked the temp it was 115. 12 hours later and the yogurt had barely set. It didn't taste sour at all.

The thing is, the cream was at 85 degrees. It didn't get sour either. I've heard that ultra-pasteurized cream doesn't ferment well, and this might be the problem.

I also checked the brand of yogurt I used to make sure I didn't misread the label. It has live active cultures alright. It even says that it can be used as a starter for home yogurt making. I'm going to try again tomorrow night. This time no heating pad. Hopefully things will be a little more favorable for the buggies.

This was such a bust. I spent extra $$$ on the good milk too.

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Yogurt:.... finally

So here it is, the long awaited entry on my yogurt.

I've never made yogurt by myself before. I made it once when I was kid, but I had lots of help from my father, so I can't really say I made it.

So I went out the other day and got some supplies. milk cream and yogurt
I got yogurt, milk and cream. I've heard conflicting reports on whether ultra-pasteurized cream is worse than regular pasteurized (raw is ideal), but ultra pasteurized was my only option and I really want to make some cultured cream, and maybe make some cultured butter out of it. Also, I've read that ultra-pasteurized cream doesn't ferment well. We shall see.

I chose the yogurt that I did because it was made quasi-locally (Austin) and contained four cultures. L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, and Bifidobacterium longum. As you might already know. I strive for diversity in my gut flora.

So I got a pot and Put The milk in it. Then I slowly heated the milk until it reached 185 degrees. This seems redundant to me. Why should I repasteurize pasteurized milk? Won't I just be doing more damage to the milk. It seems to me I should just let it come to room temp then add the yogurt. I don't know how it could get contaminated, its already been killed. Oh, I forgot to tell you this took for-freaking-ever.

So I cleaned my fermentation vessel, a one gallon pitcher, and put the now double pasteurized (for that double cancer flavor) milk in there. I placed that in the sink with some water to let it cool. This also took forever. I tried stirring the milk and the water to make the milk cool faster. It didn't seem to help much.

So in the meantime I decided to get the cream started. I took a one literish storage container and put about a cup of yogurt in it, then I beat the yogurt to thin it out, as if I were making doogh or lassi. Next I started adding in the cream, doing my best to emulsify it, without whipping it too much. The cream did start to whip up pretty fast, but I got it all emulsified with the yogurt. Notice I did not bother to repasteurize the cream like I did the milk. I figured I'd live life on the edge. I mean this stuff is ULTRA-pasteurized. there better not be anything alive in there.

Eventually the milk cooled down to 110 degrees and I added some yogurt to it. I whipped this yogurt in the same way to thin it out before I added it. Then as logic would dictate, I mixed it in with my double cancerized... I mean pasteurized, milk.

Well where do we go from here? Should I stick it in a closet? No, I'm home for part of the summer, and my father keeps the AC nice and cool. I got a heating pad and some rubber bands and then wrapped it around the pitcher with some rubber bands.

As you can see if you look closely at the pitcher, the cream is sitting beneath the pitcher of yogurt, also being wrapped in the life giving warmth of the heating pad. I put this whole thing in a small laundry basket, and wrapped everything with dirty laundry. Just kidding, I used two clean towels. I didn't take a picture of this because I was already late to go over to my friends place and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm pretty sure you would do the same in my position. (And before we go any further; yes I'm a trekker, no, I won't tell you what I thought about that piece of crap backdoor reboot special effects orgy that just came out.)

So now my milk and cream are fermenting away in the corner. Tomorrow I will teach you how to make doogh, a traditional drink made from yogurt.

This post if part of Fight Back Fridays.

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The Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men...

Well I'm bummed.

Went dandelion foraging this morning. I only found two tiny little dandelion plants. They were so tiny, it wasn't worth pulling them. They seemed so small and innocent, it just didn't seem right. This all coming from a man that likes lamb. Chew on that vegetarians.

The yogurt is postponed for a few hours. I couldn't find the heating pad to keep the yogurt warm. I'm staying at my father's right now, so when he wakes up I'll ask him where it is.

So the dandelions were a bust, but the yogurt is coming, I promise. Oh, It'll have pictures too!

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Upcoming events!!!!

So you've been keeping up with my blog and noticed that I didn't post today. Weell now I have.

Look for some good posts coming up.

Tomorrow morning I'll be foraging for dandelions with my best bro at his mom's place.

But before that (like at 3 A.M.) I'm going to make some yogurt!!!!

Both of these events will have pictures!I'm sure you're as excited as I am. I've been wanting to chronicle several recipes and experiments with photography, so I went out and bought a little twenty dollar digital camera. I know, not exactly the best quality pics, but its all I can afford. So let it go.

Don't touch that browser, more of Zeke's Awesome Eats is only a matter of hours away.

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Eat your weed

WARNING: Forage at your own risk. It's not my fault if you mess up and get yourself killed or maimed.

In addition to the previous post on pig farm pictures. I had a request for edible local plants. One specifically came to mind,


Delicious Dandelions

"What?" you ask, "That weed?"

Yes, that 'weed.' In fact I was inspired by a weed killer commercial to write this post. Why douse your lawn with toxic herbicides when you could eat the weed?

Yes dandelion is one hundred percent edible from root to flower.

The English word "dandelion" is a bastardization of the French "dent de lion" wich refers to the deeply lobed and and tooth like shape of the leaves.

I think most people know what a dandelion looks like, as it now grows all over the world. Dandelion does have a few look a likes. Unlike mushroom hunting, where a tiny difference in one characteristic makes the difference between a tasty meal and painful organ melting terminal agony, dandelion's look a likes are closely related to it. The way to tell if you have a true dandelion or not, is whether the flower stalk is branched or not. Tue dandelion does NOT have have a branched stalk. It is one stalk one flower. Also, true dandelion does not have hairy leaves.

Don't worry too much though. Its relatives like catsears are edible. They are all related to chicory. Another look alike is young wild lettuce. It is very bitter, but also edible.

How to gather Dandelions

Find dandelions, grab the base of the plant, and pull it out of the ground. A decent sized taproot should come out with it. You now hold food in your hands. Go home and rinse the dirt off.

Now to the heart of the matter...

How to eat Dandelions


Dandelions taste best when they are young and tender. They are not very bitter then. At the time of this post, its a little late for tender spring dandelions, but if you do happen to find some little youngins', they go great in a salad. They have an endive like flavor, and a mild pleasant bitterness.

It is possible to eat more mature dandelion greens, but as the summer goes on they will become more and more bitter, until the first frost of autumn, which will render them mild again.

For these mature bitter greens it is best to saute them in oil, and maybe some garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes, if any of those are your thing. The oil helps make the Vitamin A more absorbable and helps cut the bitterness. Seasoning with raw unpasteurized vinegar also helps cut the bitterness further, which you likely need if eating the mature leaves.

Greens are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium.

Dandelion Root

The root can be steamed or boiled and eaten, or you can get a little adventurous, and make a coffee like drink with it.

Take the roots and clean them very well. Then cut them into pieces a little less than an inch long. Use a food processor to grin them coarsely. Put them on a baking sheet and roast in a 250 degree oven stirring often. IT should take about two hours for the roots to dry and roast to a nice dark brown. be careful not to burn them.

This coffee/tea is a excellent diuretic and great at tonifying the kidneys.
The greens are diuretic too, but not as much. In modern French, the word for dandelion is "pissenlit," which means "piss the bed." So be aware that drinking this stuff will make you want to pee.

Dandelion flowers

Dandelion flowers can be put in with your salad, or you can make dandelion flower wine. I won't go into details here, as if you want to make dandelion flower wine, you probably already know the basics of vinting.

Basically you remove the bracts (green parts) from the flowers, mix with water and sugar and pitch your yeast. I've never had it. If you have please leave a comment and let me know how it was.

Well thats all I have to say about dandelions. Have fun foraging!

This blog is also part of the HartkeIsOnline blog Carnival. Click the picture below.

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Swine Flu Farms

Well, I had a request for pictures of the pig farms I was talking about in my last post. So here are some.

Here's a multi level cage packed with pigs.This pigs appear to still have their tales. I beleive they may be a British factory farm. I don't know.

This is supposedly a pic of a Mexican factory farm similar to the one where the swim flu outbreak started. Notice the nipped tails.

This one is kinda cute and depressing at the same time. Notice how extremely cramped these piglets are? If you were in a barn with a thousand other people,all standing pressed up against each other, don't you think it would be easy for diseases to spread, and mutate, and spread some more? Its the same way with pigs, and the reason I would never ride a Tokyo subway without an N95 face mask.

Here we see a worker at a Chinese factory farm hosing down pigs with antiseptic in an effort to control the swine flu. While these sows have some breathing room, they still can't get away from the disease, and are all breathing the same air.

Pregnant pigs, possibly in south Carolina. Does this look safe to you? These sows are lying there pregnant, covered in their own shit. How could disease NOT be spread?

And do you notice the slatted floor in almost all these pictures? The swine have no place to take a shit, so they just dump and piss on the floor, and once a day, water is flushed over the floor to wash it all down the slats. At the factory farm in Mexico, where this whole swine flu thing started, this feces/water slurry was pump into "fecal lagoons." Ah the art of spin. It almost sounds peaceful. "Ahhh. I'm tired darling. It's been such a rough day. Let us go relax by the lagoon and forget all our troubles." WRONG. Its a giant pond of pig shit, and anyone who has been near pigs knows that there feces is some of the most foul smelling in the world (except for maybe my friend Hanz's.)

Want to see some happy pigs? Check out this CSA in New York state.

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Swine flu and the factory farm connection.

Wow. I just read a very interesting article over at the blog "Kelly the Kitchen Kop" It is an interview with Michael Pollan talking about the swine flu, and how it was basically created by factory farming.

If you've even glanced at the "About me" section of this blog, then you know I'm a raw food omnivore. Most raw foodists are vegan, and won't even eat raw dairy or eggs. As a raw food omnivore. I eat not only raw dairy and eggs, but raw meat. I mostly eat raw beef, and raw beef liver. I cannot find a source of raw chicken I feel safe eating, and I do not eat pork in any form for both religious and health reasons. (more to come on that)

But to get back on topic. Michael Pollan talks about how the swine flu is a product of factory farming. Hundred of pig live in one space. The barely have room to move. Pigs are intelligent, and these living conditions make them very neurotic. Since the pigs are weaned so early, they still have a urge to suckle so they nip at the tails of the pig in front of them.

To counter this, they just nip off the pig's tail, not so that there is nothing to bite, but to make it that much more painful to have a bloody dtump bitten, so the pig will do anything to avoid a bite.

The pigs are also given tons of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. Antibiotics that are passed on to us when we eat them, so if we do need antibiotics and some point, we've already built up a resistance.

Diseases like swine flu almost always come out of places like this. It is so easy for the disease to move from animal to animal, mutating rapidly. This places are breeding ground for new virulent diseases and strains thereof.

I can easily understand my so many people have become vegetarian and vegan. This is atrocious. Its cruel to the pigs and bad for us. The solution however is not to stop eating meat. It just isn't healthy. Humans are omnivores, not carnivores or herbivores. We require both plant and animal foods for proper health. The solution is to return to proper farming techniques, where the animal roam free, and eat a proper diet. Most animals, including chickens, cow, and pigs, that live on factory farms are fed byproducts of other animals. Chickens are often fed the feathers and feces of their brothers and sisters.

Do yourself a favor. When you buy meat, whether it be pork, chicken, or good old beef, try to buy it from an outfit that you know treats them right, kills them humanely, and feeds them well.

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What do you want out of this blog?

Well my stepmom is home and she has the camera! HAHA! Now is my time to strike!

It's also a chance for me to ask you, "What do you want to see on this blog?"

Leave a comment and let me know what you want to know about. Is there a recipe you aren't sure how to make? IS there a general topic you'd like to know more about. Just want me to make a fool of myself? Let me know!!!!

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Cool Reuteri Straws

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So I was surfing the old net, and came across this page. Turns out Nestle is including probiotic straws in one of they're horrible "childrens" beverages... last year. I'm sure it full of HFCS and other nasty crap,but it comes with probiotic straws!

These straws administer 100 million CFU's (colony forming units) of Lactobacillus Reuteri when used. I wish someone would have told me about these along time ago!.The best part is, you can just buy the straws and not have to drink Nestle's foul concoction.

They're called BioGaia straws. I plan on getting some soon. Its a simple no brainer way to get a dose of probiotic bacteria. Seems like it would be great for kids and those that don't like pills.

L. reuteri is a great little bug too. It is one of very few probiotics to colonize the entire digestive tract, from your mouth to your anus. Most probiotics only live in the large intestine. Reuteri is also great at fighting off other bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, keeping them from overgrowing and getting out of control. If you were taking this it would probably help you fight off tainted beef from the recent beef recall.

By the way, I'm not getting any money from BioGaia. I just think this is a truly cool product. I plan on getting some ASAP.

You can buy the probiotic straws by following the link, but they are a bit pricey at a buck a pop.

Update: Found a site that says BioGaia's L. reuteri was extracted from the breast milk of a Peruvian woman. How random!


Who's Afraid of Beef? or: Why the recall should be pointless


So my first blog post was about probiotics. Remember them? The friendly bugs?

Well if people ate a more proper diet Including probiotics, this beef recall would be a non-issue. Bacteria like E. Coli exist in the colon naturally. They help digest our food,. In fact, E. Coli is known for its ability to "clean house" in the intestines.

Some people, especially those on a diet called "The Primal Diet" actually make it a point to eat spoiled meat. If your intestinal flora are already in fine shape and diverse, then a little E. Coli will only help, not hurt.

So if you take your probiotics, eat probiotic food like yogurt and sauerkraut, and avoid chlorinated water and preservatives (both of which slaughter your intestinal flora,) you would see why this beef recall is really a joke.

Instead we have people running around with weak, sparse intestinal flora, who aren't eating right. Its no surprise that their bodies can't handle it. Thee is so much 'house cleaning' to do , that the E. Coli overloads their systems and makes them sick.

So if you keep your body in tune, and your intestinal flora healthy and happy, you should be able to enjoy your beef this Memorial Day, no matter how 'contaminated' the beef is.

This same thing goes for salmonella and eggs. Many healthy people have had salmonella living in their gut and never gotten sick, as long as the 'good' bacteria are there to keep it in check, you may have a single case of diarrhea when you first catch. You probably wouldn't even notice it. Many people with healthier intestinal flora don't.

So if you use probiotics regularly and care for your internal bug garden, have a piece of beef and some homemade eggnog for me.

Yeah I know eggnog isn't a memorial day drink. Just go with me on this one.

Kidney Health


Since my step mother is out of town with the digital camera, my blogs for the next few weeks will be lacking in pictures and mostly informative. When she gets back from her trip I'm going to dive into some recipes...

but for now, lets talk about kidneys!

The Like most organs, the kidneys are vital to survival. The main purpose of the kidney's is to filter blood into something called "plasma ultrafiltrate," more commonly known as urine. Yes, "plasma ultrafiltrate" is a long winded technical term for pee. The kidneys are also essential in maintaining acid-base balance and blood pressure.

So what are the kidneys?

The kidneys are two well.... kidney shaped organs in the lower abdomen that lie on either side of the spine. They are fed by the renal arteries and are drain by the renal veins. (renal means kidneys)

The kidneys have two main parts, the renal cortex on the outside and the renal medulla on the inside. The renal cortex is where ultrafiltration takes place. Ultrafiltration is not unlike a reverse osmosis drinking water system. In a reverse osmosis drinking water system water is forced through a semi permeable membrane, and what makes it through is just pure water. The kidneys work on the same method.

Nephrons are the main filter of the kidneys. They do the filtering, reabsorb anything that can still be used, regulate blood volume, and regulate blood pressure.

In the Nephron, very tiny blood vessels run up against something called the Bowman's Capsule. This is a sack filled with fluids from the blood are collected. The Bowman's Capsule allows the passage of water, ions and small molecules into the sack. The Bowman's Capsule The Bowman's Capsule doesn't allow large proteins through however. If it did, we would be in poor shape, as we would be peeing out our platelets! The ultrafiltrate leaving the Bowman's Capsule is very much like plasma and it travels on to become urine.

So what can you do to keep your kidneys healthy?

It is generally accepted that they key to good kidney health is drinking lots of water. I drink almost a gallon a day. Lay off the damn soft drinks. They are so bad for you. I don't believe people still drink them. Even diet is not ok. You need good clean water. Look into buying a water filter. There is a company called "Berkey" out there that make fabulous water filters. I hope to get one soon myself.

Acidic fruits also help the kidneys, especially is you are prone to kidney stones. Unsweetened cranberry juice, lemon juice, and apple juice all have been said to help the kidneys. A great way to drink water is with a squirt of FRESH SQUEZZED lemon or lime juice.

Asparagus is believed to tone the kidneys. I recommend juicing it and drinking it.

As far as specific vitamins go, if your kidneys aren't already compromised, you should be be getting them all. Vitamins A,C,D,E,and K are important, as are the B vitamins. There is evidenc e that Thiamine can restore kidney function in diabetics.

I hope you learned a little something about our filtering friends, the kidneys.

If you want to know more about kidney's and blood pressure I suggest this : This is me and my life as a Midwife, Mum and Wife: Review of blood pressure Part 2